Conn. shooting puts gun control debate back on table
UNDATED (NBC) -- People in Connecticut are still reeling from this senseless tragedy: the latest in a string of mass shootings that have renewed the heated debate over gun control in America.
While Friday’s school massacre has already led to demands for more gun control, that topic has largely been off-the-table in Washington since a ban on assault weapons expired in 2004.
Though, it hasn't stopped Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy.
"But I also feel like I have an extreme obligation to represent those people that can't speak,” said New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D).
McCarthy's husband was killed and her son wounded in the long island railroad massacre that left six dead and 19 wounded in 1993.
Federal law makes gun ownership illegal for someone who's been ruled "mentally defective," convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors.
But, while licensed gun dealers must run background checks on buyers, private gun sales and most sold at gun shows don't have to.
"We have to draw a line in the sand sometime and start, or we are going to keep burying little children,” said Clint Van Zandt, Former FBI Profiler.
While gun laws vary from state to state, Connecticut has some of the country's toughest:
-Handgun buyers must be at least 21 and undergo extensive background checks with fingerprints.
-There's a 14-day waiting period.
-Residents who buy a handgun must attend a gun safety class.
-Sales of certain assault weapons are banned in Connecticut.
While countries with far tougher gun laws have experienced similar mass murders, their ratio of violent crime is generally far lower than in the U.S. where the right to bear arms is guaranteed by The Constitution and recently upheld by the Supreme Court.
"I don't think there will be enough laws on the book to try to stop every single killing. What we need to do is have a conversation on how we can reduce the number of killings in this country,” said McCarthy.